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Ireland hopeful Kearney will overcome calf issue to face Scotland
The 33-year-old reported tightness in his calf during yesterday’s training session in Chiba.

IRELAND HAVE CONFIRMED that Rob Kearney has picked up a calf issue at the World Cup in Japan but say they’re hopeful the fullback will be fit in time to face Scotland in their Pool A opener on Sunday.

rob-kearney Dan Sheridan / INPHO Kearney at Ireland training in Chiba. Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

The 33-year-old reported tightness in his calf during the team’s training session in Chiba on Monday and is now a doubt for this weekend’s clash with the Scots.

However, an IRFU spokesperson said that Joe Schmidt and his coaching staff are hopeful that Kearney will be involved in their squad training session either on Wednesday or Friday.

As such, Ireland are not ruling Kearney out of involvement in Yokohama yet.

“He’s got a bit of tightness in his calf,” said the spokesperson.” That’s going to be managed today. There’s no training today, it’s a down day, and it’s hoped that he will be out running on Wednesday, so we’ll be able to update again on Wednesday how he’s going.

“The plan is hopefully that he’ll do a bit of running, that it will ease up and if not Wednesday, he’ll have a run on Friday,” said the spokesperson.

Schmidt will be keen to have the highly-experienced Kearney involved against the Scots, particularly with Keith Earls’ involvement remaining uncertain due to a knee issue.

The Munster wing got through some running at training yesterday and Ireland have not yet ruled him out of the Scotland clash either. 

Nonetheless, the prospect of Ireland starting with a back three of Jacob Stockdale, Andrew Conway and Jordan Larmour against the Scots appears real at this point.

keith-earls Dan Sheridan / INPHO Earls hasn't trained fully yet in Japan. Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

Robbie Henshaw looks certain to miss Ireland’s tournament opener due to his hamstring injury. With Ireland opting not to share details on the severity of the injury, the latest update on is that they hope “he’ll be back up and running, running into the Japan week.”

News yesterday that Henshaw would be remaining in Japan came as a relief to supporters and the players himself, as Ireland reported “reasonably positive” results from a scan on his hamstring. 

There may have been some temptation to replace Henshaw in the squad with Will Addison, who remains on standby after being withdrawn from Ulster’s friendly against Glasgow Warriors last weekend. 

Under World Rugby regulations, Ireland cannot have an additional player from outside their official 31-man squad staying at their team hotel or training with them.

However, the IRFU could fly an extra player like Addison over to Japan and put him up at a nearby hotel at their own cost. World Rugby only pays accommodation and travel costs for players within competing teams’ official 31-man squads.

“Additional players must not stay or train with the team, and their presence in Japan is at the cost of the Union,” World Rugby told The42.

Schmidt indicated before the World Cup that he wouldn’t consider doing as much, however, underlining that players not involved in the 31-man squad would be better off remaining with their provinces.

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“I know that in the past, players have been placed in a nearby country so they’re all set to go. We don’t have any intention of doing that,” said the Ireland head coach. “The players are best off to be comfortable, to be training, to be playing.”

robbie-henshaw Dan Sheridan / INPHO Ireland are hoping Henshaw recovers swiftly. Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

Ireland appear to have hope that Henshaw will recover from his hamstring injury for one or both of their closing pool games against Russia and Samoa, although they will need to act swiftly if his recovery doesn’t go to plan.

With Garry Ringrose, Bundee Aki and Chris Farrell all fit to provide strong options in midfield even without Henshaw, they seem happy to carry him now in the hope that his recovery goes well.

“That’s always a question we’ll be asking ourselves,” said assistant coach Greg Feek when asked how long it’s viable to keep an injured player in Japan for.

“You have to make a call, you have to do what’s best for the team and within our squad, we’re a tight-knit group and when you name a squad you want to give everyone an opportunity.

“This means that if there is something like this, that someone else gets an opportunity, that guy can support him, and then we can just go from there.

“There will have to be some tough calls made. In the end, you just have to do what’s best for the team and I know that’s always Joe’s modus operandi anyway.”

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